Prize money for the US Olympic Marathon Trials just got a little sweeter: The top three moms who finish the race will earn a new monetary performance bonus.
It’s all part of a Changemaker grant created by &Mother—an organization founded by Olympic track star Alysia Montaño to support female athletes and shift the narrative around motherhood and sports—and supported by Vita Coco. The three fastest moms at the Trials will each receive a $5,000 award, according to a statement on &Mother’s website.
This money is separate from the official winnings offered by the race itself, which will be held on February 3 in Orlando. Prizes range from $80,000 for the first-place finisher to $7,000 for 10th place.
“We are using sports as a demonstration space for the rest of society. It is common knowledge that women who chose motherhood experience a decrease in wages—regardless of their performance—and we are thrilled that partners like Vita Coco see that should not be the case,” Montaño said in the statement. “We hope to have more partners join us in our mission as we expand to new sports in 2024.”
Looking at the starting list for the 2024 Trials, there are a whole bunch of runners who could benefit from the new grant: According to Women’s Running, out of the roughly 160 athletes—including pros and sub-elites—22 of them are moms. This includes defending Trials champ Aliphine Tuliamuk, previous American half-marathon record holder Keira D’Amato, Sara Hall, Betsy Saina, and Stephanie Bruce.
In 2019, Montaño wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling out her former sponsor, Nike, for lack of maternity protection, bringing the all-too-common problem to public attention and encouraging other runners to speak out. One year later, she founded &Mother to continue supporting fellow athletes juggling sport with parenthood on a larger scale.
“People were wondering how do we support [this] and that’s when the wheels started turning,” Montaño told Women’s Running in 2020. “I just knew that I wanted to push forward and actually make a tangible change.”
Since then the organization has created a range of Changemaker grants for athlete moms and caregivers to cover things like childcare, family travel, and mental health and lactation aid. In 2022, &Mother partnered with the New York City Marathon to make race-day logistics a little easier for breastfeeding athletes, setting up private lactation stations at the expo, throughout the course, and at the start and finish lines, as SELF previously reported. That same year, the organization also joined forces with track star Allyson Felix and Athleta to offer a new childcare initiative at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.
Runners competing at the Trials who are interested in signing up for the new Changemaker grant can complete an application before midnight on February 1 here.